Celebrating AmeriCorps' 19 years of service

National AmeriCorps Week is March 9-17. AmeriCorps Week raises awareness and celebrates the contributions of the more than 80,000 AmeriCorps members nationwide who serve their communities through a wide range of programs.

AmeriCorps is a national service program under the Corporation for National and Community Service whose members have made a commitment to serve critical needs of communities across the nation since 1994. AmeriCorps opportunities are offered to people of all backgrounds in a variety of service capacities including education, health, and environment.

I am a member of the North Florida Health Corps, a National Health Corps AmeriCorps program, and I am proud to be an AmeriCorps member. Through my service in AmeriCorps I have seen the difference a dedicated group of ordinary citizens can make in their local community.

As a North Florida Health Corps member, I have committed to 10 months of directly serving the public health needs in Duval County, Fla. I make an impact by identifying pregnant women in the community and enrolling them in the Healthy Start program, a free and voluntary program for any pregnant woman in Florida to help her have and care for a healthy baby.

During visits with pregnant women, I give information on safe sleep practices, immunizations, childbirth education, shaken-baby prevention, family planning and pre-term labor signs, as well as provide necessary referrals to women who may not have had the resources to obtain information on how to have the healthiest pregnancy possible.

I also conduct community-based outreach, letting pregnancy and social services know about the Healthy Start program, and often give presentations on infant mortality to increase awareness of the issue. There is a very high infant mortality rate in Jacksonville, and by presenting on safe sleep practices, preconception care and healthy pregnancy habits, I am assisting the community in lowering the infant mortality rate. AmeriCorps has given me the opportunity to experience the maternal-child health field in depth, and has given me a stronger passion for service. I see this also in the 22 other members who are serving in various public health sites here in Jacksonville.

I am happy to represent La Cañada as I serve in the North Florida Health Corps. Help AmeriCorps celebrate 19 years of impactful national and community service this week.

Ariana Bentz
La Cañada

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